Often called a ‘living fossil,’ the alligator gar is one of the coolest and oldest living freshwater species of fish on earth. These primitive fishes have retained many morphological characteristics of their ancient ancestors.
A record-setting 207-pound alligator gar was just caught in Texas. It is the largest specimen ever landed on Lake Corpus Christi.
Angler Paul Hefner caught the record-setting alligator gar before weighing it, measuring it, and releasing it back into the lake.
A photograph him laying down next to the fish measuring 7 feet, 6 inches long and weighing 207 pounds has gone viral as news of his incredible catch made the rounds:
Scroll to the right on that Instagram gallery and you’ll see video of him releasing the gargantuan gar.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife official Twitter account confirmed that the fish was released to live another day:
Move over, Rover 😮
This 207 lb alligator gar set a new record for Lake Corpus Christi before being released back to swim another day.
Find the record catch for your area at https://t.co/ZpfnKBCqoI
📷 Paul Hefner#TexasFishing pic.twitter.com/4QOz2fXcxr
— TX Parks & Wildlife (@TPWDnews) May 23, 2023
At 207 pounds, this fish is a certified monster. However, consider for a moment that this 7’6″ gar weighs 72 pounds less than the Texas State Record and IGFA World Record for Alligator Gar, a 279-pounder caught in 1951 on the Rio Grande.
That, however, pales in comparison to a fish that was caught on Moon Lake but never weighed. It is bigger than most canoes.
There is often a disconnect between how big these fish get and the fishing records. This is because they’re actually quite challenging to catch on rod and reel.
There are also many sportsman who use a crossbow to ‘hunt’ alligator gar instead of fishing for them. As a species, they are not great to eat, or so I’ve been told.
So when the bow hunters target alligator gar they’re doing so just to kill them and take a picture. At best they’re going to make a replica of the fish to mount. But it’s all for sport and not to each.
On rod and reel, these gar are often released back into the wild so they can pass along their powerful genes to the next generation of gar. Catch-and-release is definitely the preferred method with this species.
For anyone targeting alligator gar for catch-and-release, look to the lower Mississippi River Valley. The species is prominent throughout the Southeastern United States near the Mississippi River but can also be found as far south as Mexico.
Recently, an angler caught and released a 251-pound alligator gar near Huntsville, Texas. It was one of the largest specimens caught in a very long time.